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  Fear of Letting Go of Clutter
by Sharon Crosby

Many people find it hard to let go of clutter. Even though it may not be something they use, love, or want anymore they just can't seem to let it go.

That inability manifests itself as doubt. A little niggling of fear.

The question is, what do you do about that feeling?

One thing I hear people say is that they're afraid of throwing something out that they may want later.

I was often afraid of the old de-cluttering standby that says if you haven't used it in "X" an amount of time to throw it out. I knew there were things that I hadn't used in the proscribed amount of time that I really wanted to keep. So I'd put off throwing stuff out.

I finally took a cue from time management. I realized I had things that took up my time or space that weren't that important to me, which prevented me from enjoying things I wanted more.

I saw that clutter isn't always something you haven't used in a long time. It might be something you're using on a regular basis, but if you closely examined it you might realize you really don't want it after all.

In other words, prioritizing what was important to me allowed me to let go of things I was using, but didn't
derive much satisfaction from. When I let go of what was less important to me I was able to enjoy those things that had been sitting on the back burner, or to be more precise, the back of the closet.

If you've been afraid you "should" throw something out that deep down you really want to keep you can eliminate that fear. Because by figuring out what your priorities are you make it easier to decide what you really should toss. You'll know what you have time for and *want* to have time for. What makes you feel good and what doesn't. And so on.

Second, you can prioritize each item you are deliberating on whether to keep or not. In other words, on a scale
of one to ten how important is this item to you and the life you want to be living?

To learn more about setting priorities and it's relation to clutter check out the article at:

Another very effective way to overcome fear is to challenge it. This can also be phrased as "feel the fear and do it anyway." (By the way, there is a great book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway that you might want to check out.) It's amazing how you feel when you do something you thought was incredibly difficult or even impossible. You thought you couldn't do it, but you did...and you even survived.

Letting go little by little is an easy way to challenge the doubts or fears you have about letting certain things go. When you let go of stuff just a little at a time it seems much less overwhelming. You get practice at doing something that may be difficult for you. And each time it becomes a little easier, until you reach the point that you're taking bigger steps.

When you feel the fear and do it anyway you feel very powerful. You have made a conscious choice not to let the doubt or fear control you. Doing so makes you stronger and makes the next difficult task easier as well.

Be aware also that often it is not the clutter that controls us, but our doubts and fears instead.

Second, begin to trust. Trust your ability to make decisions. Trust that if you make a "wrong" decision by throwing something out that you will be able to survive anyway. That you will either make do, be creative and find a substitute, or be able to buy another one, etc.

It is okay to make mistakes here. De-cluttering is not a life or death situation. I have never heard of a person dying because they let go of a piece of clutter (although there are the rare cases of people dying because they held onto clutter that caused an accident to occur).

So go ahead. Toss something out. See how you feel.  Chances are you are going to feel powerful rather than weakened because you faced the fear.

Copyright 2001 Sharon Crosby - Mind Over Clutter


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